This family-friendly vegetarian Italian Caprese pasta salad takes only 5 ingredients and 15 min to make - Perfect for a quick summer meal!
This classic Italian Caprese pasta salad is an easy, light and quick meal that never disappoints.
Red tomato, green basil, white mozzarella - Basically the Italian flag served on the plate!
Fresh and simple, this easy pasta recipe is loaded with Mediterranean flavour, and makes the perfect meal both kids and grown-ups will love.
When Italian Caprese Was Created
Caprese salad, one of the simplest and most appreciated dishes of the summer, is the queen of the Italian tables in summertime.
A compendium of Italian flavours that sums up, with extreme simplicity, all the goodness of Italian taste.
As the name suggests, the Caprese salad was born on the beautiful island of Capri, the pearl of the Gulf of Naples.
This classic dish was created around the '20s, when it first appeared on the menu of the Hotel Quisisana in Capri.
The story says that the Caprese was part of a futurist dinner, organized for the founder of this historical-cultural movement, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.
Ingredients for Caprese Pasta
This recipe is ready in just 20 minutes, it’s conveniently vegetarian and made with simple every-day ingredients.
In fact, all you need is just 5 staple ingredients from the Italian cuisine:
- ripe cherry tomatoes
- fresh mozzarella
- good extra-virgin olive oil
- basil leaves
I totally recommend choosing your ingredients wisely, since it's just 5 of them, pick the best you can afford.
I'm Italian, and I'm picky when it comes to pasta. I like to use pasta from Gragnano (a small town near Naples) whenever possible.
The pasta in Gragnano is made using a unique pasta machine and ingredients. Both give the pasta a signature roughness and a porous surface that holds the sauce so much better and keeps al dente.
This speciality pasta has become internationally popular over the last years and can be easily found online, in large stores and at most Italian delis.
Choose organic cherry tomatoes whenever possible. They taste sweeter and less acidic. If you buy them at the farmers' market, just ask to taste a tomato, if it's sweet, that's the one.
Another great variety to use is datterino, which is small as the cherry tomato, but has an oval shape and tastes slightly sweeter.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Try to get a high quality extra-virgin olive oil, which tastes a million times better.
Look for an EVOO that carries a PDO label (Protected Designation of Origin). You can read this helpful guide for more detailed info.
Choose mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella) whenever possible (again, look for the PDO label if you can), and you will be rewarded.
Buffalo mozzarella has a stronger but not overpowering taste, and a creamy and smooth texture. it really is delicious and just melts in your mouth.
You can buy a whole ball and cut into chunks, or use bocconcini, bite-sized mozzarella balls, as I did here.
fresh large basil leaves are deeply aromatic and will add a lovely refreshing note to your pasta. So don't skip them! Tear the leaves with your hand delicately to bring out all their aroma.
Best Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe Tips
This recipe is really easy to make, but to make sure you get the best Italian pasta ever, here are some of my tips:
- Cook your pasta al dente, so that it keeps a nice and lovely texture and doesn't becoming mushy once you stir it with the tomatoes.
- You can add raw tomatoes, however, gently sauteeing the tomatoes for a couple of minutes will make all the difference in terms of flavour, trust me.
- Make sure you add the mozzarella after you turn the heat off. The mozzarella will slightly melt, but will keep its shape and lovely texture.
- Add a few extra basil leaves and a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil right before serving, to bring out all the refreshing flavour of this amazing pasta dish.
How to store leftovers
This Italian pasta salad keeps well in the fridge for up to two days. You can eat it at room temperature, or cold, and it tastes absolutely delish.
I do not recommend to reheat it, as the mozzarella turns out a bit rubbery.
More Italian Recipes You'll Love
If you're looking for more traditional Italian recipes to wow your family and friends, give the below recipes a try!
- Traditional Bolognese Sauce
- Authentic Italian Potato Frittata
- Classic Italian Tomato Sauce
- Italian Fried Mozzarella Sandwich
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
Please let me know how you liked it! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #thepetitecook! Looking at your pictures always makes me smile *and super hungry*!
Italian Caprese Pasta Salad
- 350 gr pasta (penne, fusilli, tortiglioni, farfalle)
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 250 gr ripe cherry tomatoes
- 200 gr buffalo mozzarella (or bite-sized mozzarella balls)
- 5 basil leaves
- sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
- Fold the pasta into a pot of lightly salted boiling water.
- Heat a large pan over medium heat and drizzle evenly with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and sauté for a few minutes, then add 2 basil leaves, a tablespoon of water and cover with a lid.
- Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In the meantime, drain the pasta al dente and transfer it into a large salad bowl. Then, cut the mozzarella into small cubes.
- Add the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, the remaining basil leaves and mix all the ingredients.
- Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately, at room temperature or cold.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.